THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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It’s time to head off to the Impact Zone again as we take a look at TNA’s latest pay-per-view offering, Victory Road, shown on the Extreme Sports channel this past Friday here in Britain.
Title action began the show as Brian Kendrick challenged Doug Williams for the X Division title in an Ultimate X match.
A slight change to the rules in this one, with the winner able to achieve victory by either grabbing the belt from above the ring or via submission. The submission stipulation was added because our Doug is apparently afraid of heights. Kind of strange, as I’m sure I saw him in a three-way ladder match for WAW a few years ago.
This was a very solid opener, with Williams’ new phobia played out perfectly. Both guys went for several submissions, with Williams using various holds while Spanky preferred the cobra clutch.
Williams came out on top, slapping on his own cobra clutch after both me fell down from the wires. Good stuff.
Then it was on to three-way action, involving Brother Ray, Brother Devon and Jesse Neal.
Well, that was the intention. Devon didn’t make the start of the match because he’d been locked in his dressing room.
A lot better than last month’s performance, with the drama quota increased ten fold, making this a whole lot better.
We also had another audience appearance tom Tommy Dreamer, this time with Rhino, Raven and Stevie Richards, as well as a cameo from Neal’s partner Shannon Moore. Brother Devon eventually appeared, and looked like he was going to take Brother Ray’s side before he clobbered his long-time partner.
In the end Brother Ray took the pin, taking out Neal with the bubba bomb after the tattooed one accidentally speared Brother Devon.
The Knockouts were up next, as Madison Rayne defended her title against Angelina Love in another match with a ton of stipulations.
As well as Madison’s title, Angelina’s career was also on the line, with the added stipulation that if any of The Beautiful People interfered Angelina could win the title on a disqualification.
This was certainly the best PPV efforts from the Knockouts in recent months, a good example of how Angelina was missed from the division during her visa issues.
The ending came when a woman who looked like the Stig’s motorbike-riding female cousin appeared at ringside and attacked Angelina. Madison looked happy with her efforts, until the ref tried to look under the helmet and ruled that Angelina had win the title by disqualification because she’d been attacked by one of the Beautiful People. Again, nice drama.
Tag team action followed as Ric Flair’s boys A.J. Styles and Frankie Kazarian took a mystery team, who turned out to be Global Champion Rob Terry and Samoa Joe. Yep, Samoa Joe was back on the big stage. Needless to say that Styles and Kazarian weren’t too happy with the opponents that Flair had chosen for them.
Boy was this entertaining. It began with Joe and Terry throwing their opponents around the ring, until Styles and Kazarian finally decided to work as a unit.
They worked pretty well together, and form there things only got better, with a brief cameo performance from Desmond Wolfe, and Styles pinning Terry after a 450 splash from the top rope.
The baby faces had the last laugh though, as Joe attacked Wolfe while he was bragging about his contribution, taking him out with the muscle buster.
The big grudge match was next, as Matt Morgan faced Hernandez in a cage match.
This battle of the big men proved to be a good back and forth affair, with both guys putting on a good show that would have been even better if Super Mex hadn’t botched a couple of border toss attempts.
The big moment came when Hernandez tried to invoke the spirit of Jimmy Snuka by diving off the top of the cage. It didn’t work as he crashed and burned when Morgan rolled out of the way.
A nice ending to this one. Morgan handcuffed Hernandez to the ropes so he could freely climb over the top. But Hernandez managed to break the cuffs, diving through the cage door and winning just before Morgan dropped to the floor. Well, it was good, but it could have been better.
Then it was on to the battle of the generations as Jay Lethal went up against Ric Flair. Looks like that retirement stipulation didn’t last that long then.
This was the first time I’d seen Flair in action since that classic with Shawn Michaels, and while I’ve got to give kudos to the man for all the big bumps he took, I can’t give him much more.
He was slow, ponderous, and really looked like a man whose first match was nearly forty years ago. All the usual Flairisms where there, although it was like watching them in slow motion.
Lethal looked okay as he did his best Nature Boy impression, eventually getting the submission win with the figure four leg lock. Definitely the worst match of this show.
Normal action resumed as Beer Money faced the Motor City Machine Guns for the Tag Team titles, vacated after Scott Hall was fired because of his latest battle with his personal demons.
A good example of what tag-team wrestling should be here. Once again Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley impressed with their double team moves and overall performances, while Robert Roode and James Storm were perfect foils, with some great doubling up of their own.
Plenty of back and forth action mixed in with plenty of near falls, with the referee taking an inadvertent beer shot from Storm, with a new referee coming down to the ring to take over for a while. However, both the old and the new one counted different pins. After much discussion the match was re-started, with Shelley pinning Roode after the Guns took him down with their neck breaker/top body block combination, ending a very good match, with the Guns finally getting their hands on the gold.
The penultimate match saw Kurt Angle continuing his rise up the new rankings table, this time against number eight contender D’Angelo Dinero.
This was another perfect performance from the Olympic hero, continuing his impressive series of matches against the mid-card contenders.
Once again he brought his opponent up to his level. Dinero’s performance was possibly the best of his TNA career, certainly better than anything he did for that other company.
So after a great back and forth affair Angle eventually got the win when the Pope tapped out to the ankle lock. Angle praised his opponent before he left the ring, planning for the next contender on the list.
The main event saw TNA Champion Rob Van Dam defending his title against Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson and Abyss.
It’s no secret that I haven’t exactly been enthralled by RVD’s pay-per-view title defences recently. Most of the time he just looked like he was going through the motions.
By making this a four way they certainly improved the action. Abyss is definitely better as a psycho with a nail board, while Hardy’s and Anderson’s performances were solid, even though Hardy looked like he was phoning it in at times.
RVD retained his title, breaking up Abyss’ pin on both Hardy and Anderson, getting the pin on Anderson seconds later.
Abyss wasn’t too happy though, attacking RVD as he celebrated, with the champion narrowly escaping with Abyss tried to attack him with the nail board.
In conclusion – I think TNA may have done the impossible here. For the first time in ages I actually enjoyed the majority of the matches, and that’s something I haven’t said in a very long time.
From top to bottom most of the matches delivered what they set out to do, and even though I didn’t really enjoy the Flair/Lethal match, the others made up for the particular disappointment.
Si in all a good effort from the TNA crew. Lets hope they can achieve the same thing next month.